Ijeoma Oti and Jaylen Amaker, both rising second-year students at Notre Dame Law School, have been appointed to the 2020-2021 National Black Law Students Association executive board.
Oti will serve as the national director of advocacy and external initiatives, while Amaker will serve as the national director of career and professional development.
In her role, Oti will work to harmonize action on policy and civic issues affecting minority communities. She will also establish a social action plan that furthers the mission, objectives, and purposes of the NBLSA constitution.
“I hope to help increase the number of culturally responsible Black and minority attorneys who excel academically and succeed professionally. I look forward to influencing legal systems by advocating for meaningful change, addressing the needs and concerns of the Black community,” said Oti.
In his role on the board, Amaker will be responsible for advancing NBLSA’s objective of fostering professional success for its members by providing resources that will help to enhance professional competencies and access to career opportunities. This includes executing six regional job fair programs and NBLSA’s national job fair program, working with regional and local chapters to develop nationwide programming, and maintaining a nationwide professional resource bank that includes information on successful networking, professional skills, and open employment, internship, and externship opportunities.
“On both the national and regional level, my number one goal is to increase employer participation at our job fairs and job placement, regardless of industry, for NBLSA members. As COVID-19 continues to ravage through the country and impact all industries, we need to do our best to provide job opportunities and job security,” said Amaker. “My second goal is to work closely with our national director of corporate engagement to create new and build upon existing partnerships with organizations that focus on the advancement of students and attorneys of color.”
Oti also hopes to aid in increasing the number of Black legal professionals. Oti says that according to the American Bar Association, the percentage of Black attorneys has not increased in the last decade and remains at 5 percent.
“I’m moved to organize action focused on increased recruitment and retention of Black law students ultimately raising that percentage,” said Oti. “I am also excited about forging partnerships with local organizations that have institutional knowledge, expertise and experience in advocacy work in specific realms such as voting rights and civic engagement.”
Both look forward to serving and making a positive change.
“It is both an honor and a privilege to serve on NBLSA’s National Board and my position gives me the opportunity to serve my greater law school community. I am grateful to be able to work with a collective group that shares this same sentiment. To me, creating a legacy is more than just becoming a great attorney or making a lot of money. It also means influencing the lives of others and making a positive change in the world. Through this position I am engaging with my colleagues in a meaningful way, helping them achieve their goals, and inspiring the next generation of lawyers,” said Amaker.
Oti began her service with BLSA during her time as an undergraduate at the University of Southern California. She chartered the USC BLSA pre-law chapter in hopes of aiding students of color in pursuit of legal education. At Notre Dame Law School, Oti is a staff editor on the Law School’s Journal of International and Comparative Law, a member of the diversity and inclusion committee of the Student Bar Association, is director of recruitment and retention for the First Generation Professionals, and is the external affairs chair for the Law School’s chapter of the Black Law Students Association.
This summer, Oti is working as a global legal organization summer intern at Colgate-Palmolive in New York.
This summer, Amaker is a summer associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s New York office. He is a staff editor on Notre Dame Law School’s Journal of Legislation, is an oralist on the Moot Court Board, and is the chief financial officer for the First Generation Professionals.
His future plans are to become an equity partner at a law firm in New York. He also intends to remain an active member of the Junior Board of Directors at DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI), a nonprofit headquartered in New York City that uses the power of teams to inspire inner-city youth to recognize their potential and achieve their dreams. He says that organizations like DREAM will allow him to pay forward his good fortunes and invest in his community, the same way people invested in him.
“My hope is that my story will allow members of my community to see what life has to offer, beyond what young people from impoverished communities are traditionally exposed to. I also hope to build my community up so that the next generation will not feel the need to leave their communities to have access to opportunities that all young people should be afforded, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status,” said Amaker.